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Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2008 May-Jun;31(3):587-94. doi: 10.1007/s00270-008-9293-9. Epub 2008 Jan 31.

Percutaneous cryoablation of small hepatocellular carcinoma with US guidance and CT monitoring: initial experience.

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Department of Diagnostic Imaging and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital "Tor Vergata,", Via Oxford 81, 00199 Rome, Italy.


The purpose of this study was to retrospectively determine the safety and effectiveness of percutaneous cryoablation, monitored with computed tomography (CT) and ultrasonographic (US) guidance, for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Four patients with small HCCs underwent one percutaneous cryoablation treatment session monitored with CT and US guidance. All patients underwent pretreatment blood chemistry testing and imaging evaluation. We treated lesions with simultaneous insertion of multiple 17-G cryoprobes (two or three) and defined technical success when the extension of a visible iceball was beyond 5 mm from the tumor margin. Intralesional enhancement or tumoral size increase was defined as local progression compared with that on images obtained immediately after ablation. We evaluated complications and follow-up (at 1, 3, and 6 months). All patients survived without short- or long-term complications. Cryoablation was technically successful in all patients at the end of the procedure. During follow-up two patients developed disease recurrence. One patient developed local tumor progression on the margin of the lesion; the other, a new HCC. In the case of local tumor progression a new elevation of alpha-fetoprotein (alphaFP) levels occurred at first follow-up control. In the other case levels of alphaFP remained stable during the first 3 months after the procedure, then demonstrated a progressive increase in alphaFP levels beginning at the fourth month, without tumor evidence during CT control at 3 months. We conclude that percutaneous cryotherapy with US guidance and CT monitoring is a feasible, safe, and effective for treatment of HCC. If local ablative procedures of hepatic lesions are to be performed, percutaneous cryoablation, not laparotomic, should be discussed as an alternative therapeutic measure. Longer follow-up should provide proof of the effectiveness of this technique.

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